Supreme Court Grants Cert in Three DACA Cases
On June 28, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari in the three Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) termination cases that currently are before U.S. district courts in California, the District of Columbia, and New York. The Supreme Court consolidated the following three court challenges to the Trump administration’s termination of DACA: DHS v. Regents of the Univ. of California (9th Cir.), Trump v. NAACP (D.C. Dist. Ct.), and McAleenan v. Vidal (E.D.N.Y.). (For more information on these cases, see Status of Current DACA Litigation.) The courts in these three cases determined that the Trump administration’s termination of DACA is unlawful and issued injunctions allowing people who already have DACA to renew it.
The injunctions requiring U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to accept DACA applications from individuals who have previously obtained deferred action through DACA remain in place. For information about applying for DACA renewal, see FAQ: USCIS Is Accepting DACA Renewal Applications.
On January 9, 2018, Judge William Alsup of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered a halt to the federal government’s termination of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. In Regents of the Univ. of California, et al. v. Department of Homeland Security, et al., Judge Alsup granted a preliminary injunction — a temporary order blocking the termination of the DACA program while the case goes forward — requiring USCIS to begin accepting DACA renewal applications again. On January 13, 2018, USCIS announced its process for accepting renewal applications.
On Feb. 13, 2018, a U.S. district court in Brooklyn, New York, issued a second preliminary injunction which is the same in scope as the order from the U.S. district court in California. The court in New York held that there was a substantial likelihood that the plaintiffs would prevail on their claim that the Trump administration ended DACA in a way that was arbitrary and capricious, and therefore unlawful.
On April 24, 2018, Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a final judgment that (a) granted, in part, summary judgment in favor of DACA recipients and organizations that sued to reverse the Trump administration’s termination of DACA and (b) ordered that the original memorandum terminating the program be vacated. The judge’s decision would have reinstated the status quo as it was before September 5, 2017, when the original DACA program was in place and USCIS was accepting first-time applications for DACA (rather than only DACA renewal applications). Ultimately, the court stayed (paused) the part of the order allowing people who were otherwise DACA-eligible to submit a first-time application for DACA.
On November 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice took the rare step of requesting that the U.S. Supreme Court grant certiorari before judgment, seeking review of the preliminary injunctions issued in the U.C. Regents (California) and Batalla (New York) cases, as well as review of the decision in NAACP (District of Columbia). This was a rare step. Normally, the intermediary courts of appeal review decisions of district courts before review is sought from the Supreme Court. On June 28, 2019, the Supreme Court agreed to review these three cases, before the Courts of Appeal for the Second Circuit or the D.C. Circuit issued their decisions.
When will the Supreme Court hear the cases?
On June 28, 2019, the Supreme Court announced only that it will take up the DACA cases next term. The Court did not set a date for oral argument in the consolidated cases. The Court is likely to hear the DACA cases late in 2019 or in early 2020. A decision on DACA from the Court is likely by June 2020. We may have a better sense of timing after the Court establishes briefing deadlines in the consolidated case.
What does this mean for DACA renewal processing?
Even though the Supreme Court has decided to hear the case, the process to apply for DACA renewals remains protected and available under the district court injunctions. If a person is eligible to apply for DACA renewal, they should consider applying for renewal. They should consult with a legal service provider if they are unsure about whether to apply or if they qualify.
For information about applying for DACA renewal and a list of factors to consider before applying, see FAQ: USCIS Is Accepting DACA Renewal Applications.
NILC will continue to monitor this issue and to provide updates. When we have more information, we will make it available at www.nilc.org/daca/.
Important: Given the limitations of the court orders, there is still a need for a permanent form of relief for this population. For more information on how to get involved, visit http://WeAreHereToStay.org.